Is GPS really necessary for accurate maps?

Discussion in 'Alternatives to iOS and iOS Devices' started by MBX, Nov 26, 2013.

  1. MBX macrumors 68000

    Sep 14, 2006
    I notice big inaccuracy in Google Maps when I only use it over Wifi/ LTE and no GPS. I didn't have that issue with Apple previously.

    Does Google Maps really require GPS in order to be accurate?

    Edit: actually really weird. I put GPS on just to see if it switched to accurate location and it just remained inaccurate. Showed that I'm at a place many many blocks away from where I actually am.

    Anyone know what's going on? I already have location improving on but nothing helping so far.
  2. balamw Moderator


    Staff Member

    Aug 16, 2005
    New England
    Are you comparing results for the same device or your recollection of an earlier device and software?

    Location services without WiFi rely mainly on the WiFi and other detectable radio signal strengths. If someone in your area changed their router's position or installed a new router that could affect the way non-GPS location is determined.

  3. MBX thread starter macrumors 68000

    Sep 14, 2006
    As just written in the edited version above I switched on GPS but nothing improved, still showing wrong location. Many blocks away from where I actually am :(
  4. MRU Suspended


    Aug 23, 2005
    Restart your phone ?

    Or go to the location it's telling you that you are currently at and see what the big mystery is ? Maybe Google are sending you a sign ;)
  5. MBX thread starter macrumors 68000

    Sep 14, 2006
    I'm still getting piss poor Google Maps performance even with GPS on and even after restarting many times. I can't believe it.

    Google Maps was so much more accurate on the iPhone. Really don't get it. What could be the issue?

    It's not only lagging more/ slower but also shows a much wider range (blue circle) even with GPS on. Then it jumps around often showing I'm at a different location when I'm not.

    Any ideas?
  6. walie macrumors 6502a

    Nov 15, 2010
    Its your phone, I get bang on location on my nexus 5
  7. Tarzanman macrumors 65816

    Jul 16, 2010
    It is probably your phone (or just the GPS chip on your phone). I used to have the same problem with my Samsung Vibrant (a 2010 Galaxy S). It was a widely reported fault that Samsung never copped up to.

    When I replaced the phone, the problem went away and none of my other phones have had the issue.

    Return your phone.
  8. bearda macrumors 6502

    Dec 2, 2005
    Germantown, MD
    What device are you experiencing the problem on?
  9. JaySoul macrumors 68030


    Jan 30, 2008
    Sounds like your phone may be at fault, here.
  10. ucfgrad93 macrumors P6


    Aug 17, 2007
  11. cynics macrumors G4

    Jan 8, 2012
    My android devices are spot on just like my Apple devices. Sometimes scary accurate, like down to the exact parking spot.

    To me it sounds like a device related issue be it hardware or software.

    I don't think GPS accuracy of Android vs iOS has ever been "a thing". However certain devices have had their fair share of issues.
  12. Jessica Lares macrumors G3

    Jessica Lares

    Oct 31, 2009
    Near Dallas, Texas, USA
    Restart your phone? Clear Google Maps data?

    I've had GPS inaccuracies from app to app on all my Android devices and now my Windows Phone.

    I have pretty bad signal though. GPS doesn't rely on cell signal (I don't think), but if you have shoddy cell signal, you might have GPS problems too.
  13. kdarling, Dec 2, 2013
    Last edited: Dec 2, 2013

    kdarling macrumors demi-god


    Jun 9, 2007
    First university coding class = 47 years ago
    Sound like it's using cell towers or WiFi, instead of GPS.

    Make sure you really do have GPS enabled... and you gave it at least ten minutes outdoors to lock in, for worst case. (Some devices are sensitive enough to receive the signals indoors. Others are not.)

    To be sure that your GPS and its antenna are working, download an app called "GPS Test" from the Play Store, and see if it sees any satellites, and what the signal strengths are.

  14. OhHaiThere macrumors regular


    Sep 8, 2011
    Yes, GPS is required if you want an accurate maps/navigation. Enable it!
  15. SR71 macrumors 68000

    Jan 12, 2011
    Boston, MA
    It would help if you told us what device you were using. And yes, GPS is definitely required if you want accurate maps.
  16. Stuntman06 macrumors 6502a


    Sep 19, 2011
    Metro Vancouver, B.C, Canada
    Have you tried any other mapping app like Waze? If the same thing happens with other mapping apps, it could be a defect with your particular phone.
  17. MBX thread starter macrumors 68000

    Sep 14, 2006
    Note 3/ A 4.3
  18. MBX, Dec 3, 2013
    Last edited: Dec 3, 2013

    MBX thread starter macrumors 68000

    Sep 14, 2006
    OK so I installed Waze and unlike Google Maps it's totally accurate and smooth!

    So it must be Google Maps not playing nice on my Note 3. What could it be???


    So I tried everything. Turned off/ uninstalled Google Maps, cleared all location data/ cache. Turned back on/ updated it. Still no luck.

    I don't understand how Waze is all totally accurate but Google Maps just doesn't play nice on the same device. GPS is on too. Really don't get it.

    And this issue is both on Wifi & LTE. :(

    What could it be?
  19. MBX thread starter macrumors 68000

    Sep 14, 2006
    This is so stupid: after I cleared all the cache & location history from all settings, Google Now thinks I'm in California Berkeley instead of NYC.

    UNBELIEVABLE. Is Google really that dumb, sometimes?

    On top of everything Maps now has become almost useless. When I try to access my location it just keeps saying "Waiting for location..." and nothing happens.

    I can't believe it. GPS is on and everything and yet Google Maps has such issues. WTF.
  20. kdarling, Dec 3, 2013
    Last edited: Dec 3, 2013

    kdarling macrumors demi-god


    Jun 9, 2007
    First university coding class = 47 years ago
    That can happen to the iPhone, too.

    If GMaps is using WiFi and someone near you just moved from CA to NY and took their WiFi router with them, then Google's hotspot database is still using the router's old location. (*)

    It sounds like somehow GMaps is set to not use GPS. Perhaps some privacy setting somewhere.

    • Did you try the GPS Test as I suggested, btw? If you're in NYC, it's not exactly the best GPS place.
    • Edit: Also, are you running the stock ROM? Are you running any kind of privacy guard software?
    • Try this: Settings - Apps - Maps => force Close + clear Data + clear Cache.

    (*) A much rarer event is when cell ids are swapped. A few years back, AT&T swapped a cell id between Boulder CO and someplace along the beach in Los Angeles. It mixed up iPhone users for a while!
  21. Fanaticalism macrumors 6502a

    Apr 16, 2013
    Funny that you mention this as I was just in the city a few days ago with the wife and we were using her i5 for nav. As we got closer to the FDR, her phone lost its location and could no longer give directions. We thought there were something wrong with her phone so we lit up my Note 3, only to have the same issue.
  22. Night Spring macrumors G5

    Night Spring

    Jul 17, 2008
    I think it's having lots of tall buildings so close together, must block signals or something. Lots of pockets in the city where GPS is totally unreliable.
  23. MBX thread starter macrumors 68000

    Sep 14, 2006
    I never had any issues with my iPhones (Apple or Google maps). This Google maps being so wrong is a first time for me. And I can't find a solution how to fix it. Waze is totally accurate but not Google Maps. Wtf.
  24. kdarling, Dec 3, 2013
    Last edited: Dec 3, 2013

    kdarling macrumors demi-god


    Jun 9, 2007
    First university coding class = 47 years ago
    Indeed. GPS requires signals from four satellites for a solution. (It can be done with fewer under certain circumstances, but let's ignore that for now.)

    There's usually about a half dozen satellites in view at any one time... IF you're in the open. In a city, between buildings, it'd be surprising to see more than a couple.

    They're also constantly moving, orbiting the Earth about twice a day. And they have to be at least 15 degrees above the horizon to be useful without too much atmospheric interference. So usable ones in the city will be almost fleeting glimpses.

    Add in the fact that most of a GPS orbit is south of NYC. (GPS satellites only go between 55 degrees north or south latitude, and NYC is at 40 north.) Southern views are probably blocked in many places.

    Once again I repeat: if other GPS programs work, it might mean you have somehow revoked Google Maps' permission to use GPS. See my previous post for some tests to make. Clearing its data should clear your preferences.

    Also I've read (i.e. I don't know for sure) that both Google Play Store and Google Services must have location permission, for Google Maps to use GPS.
  25. MBX thread starter macrumors 68000

    Sep 14, 2006
    Already done that. Didn't help. But I'm not gonna bother restoring my phone to factory settings. To much work to get everything back on again and all settings. Plus no guarantee it would help at all. I guess I'll just wait to see if some next AT&T/ Android/ Maps updates solve the problem.

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